Expressed opinions Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
With everyone, their neighbors and their neighbor’s dog throwing a Shopify store lately, you might be surprised how few people turn into a real, profitable business. There are many reasons why. Too much to list here. But in my company, we call these five “business killers.”
1. You have no 10x unique quality offer or you do but no one knows about it
Can you answer yes to these questions: Is your product really better than the competition? So good that customers see you as the only logical choice? Do customers know this or do you have to tell them? Do your price proposals repeat consistently across your website, social media, email, PR, etc.?
You need to value a unique product or brand first and then, make sure people know about you without thinking twice.
Related: What is your price offer?
2. You don’t take the time to create a marketing plan
It comes down to strategy vs. strategy. Imagine you are on a football team. Strategies plan your game. “Drama” is your strategy. “Drama” will never work if they are random, then why would you manage your business this way? In marketing lingo, the strategies will be promotion, PR, email marketing, etc. But they only work if they are part of an overall integrated marketing plan. Operating strategically lets you know the timeline needed to measure success and when to start your next marketing venture.
3. Poor management of cash flow and ROI
At the beginning of a brand’s lifespan (unless you have massive financing) most of your spending goes directly to marketing (think Dollar Shave Club or Warby Parker early) and customer acquisition vs. mass market branding (think Coca-Cola). Meaning, you need to ruthlessly optimize your marketing which is giving the highest return.
Related: 3 Cash-management strategies to improve cash flow problems and optimize efficiency
Original explanation: This does not mean that you should become a spammy sales machine. This means that every marketing part that you put out should run some sort of work. Download a PDF, subscribe, buy now, etc. You want to maintain brand equity and focus on building your following.
4. Money wise and dollar fool
This one is pretty simple. Don’t buy cheap things on all fronts. When you go cheap you lose key functionality, customer support, quality of service to customers and this will seriously damage the long term value of your brand. In the beginning, SAAS shoots for the middle level of products and other operating costs.
On a side note, if it’s not on the budget, don’t buy anything out of your budget if it hurts cash flow or puts your business in a situation where you can only cover two more months of spending and you pray this new fancy tool is able to cover it. Will. 9/10 times it won’t. Don’t be dumb. Wait until you have at least 4 months cash reserve.
5. Ignore what the market says
Most of what you do in the first year is humanely replicated as quickly as possible in everything from quality offerings, website design, marketing plans, who your target audience really is, and so on.
But if the business is flatline and you are not willing to look at the data because you have this beautiful view of what your brand will look like and you will only double down and pump more money into the ads which will not work… you are only speeding up your journey to the graveyard.
Remember, the market always tells you what works and what doesn’t. Don’t ignore the information. Leave your ego for your business and its employees.
How to implement
One after another. Sit down with your team, or only with yourself if it is a single operation. Break down each one and then choose which one will be most beneficial for your business. A great one-two punch to get started with numbers one and two on this list.
The first year of business can be scary, stressful and I want to question why you are doing this. And while this list is not exhaustive, it will help you avoid the most common mistakes people make when starting to sell online.
If you want to learn some other tool or you just want to hear what an expert will do then make sure to look for an expert who has gone through the gauntlet and they can actually do for you what they are claiming.
Related: A marketing agency model that actually benefits the client